Grads Returned to College After Absence

Student studying at Library

PCCC Congratulates Our First DARC Grads:
Vivian Clayton - Mario Garcia - Daniel Dolcine

In the 38th Commencement ceremonies at Passaic County Community College, three graduates were the first to complete their degrees through the College’s federally funded DARC (Disengaged Adults Returning to College) program, an initiative to help adults who have left college to return and finish.

Vivian Clayton, a Paterson grandmother and retiree, Mario Garcia, a hospital worker from Paterson, and Daniel Dolcine, a resident of Orange, all returned to college after an absence and received their Associate’s degrees as graduates in the Class of 2010.

Both Vivian and Mario earned an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree in Liberal Arts. Vivian’s concentration is in Humanities and Mario’s is in Criminal Justice. Daniel earned an Associate in Science (A.S.) degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Science. All three plan to continue their education toward a bachelor’s degree.


Mario Garcia is congratulated by Joann
Gonzalez-Generals (left) and Joan Meeh
(right) of the DARC program at PCCC.

The $75,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education enables selected colleges to offer qualifying candidates the opportunity to finish their education under a streamlined process that provides extra academic support, mentoring, and even vouchers for book purchases and child care.

Vivian, who retired last year from a 36-year career as a corporate benefits administrator, will go on to Montclair State University to study psychology. She plans a second career as a counselor. Mario, a 2003 graduate of East Side High School in Paterson, hopes to become a New Jersey state trooper and will enter Kean University to major in criminal justice. Daniel, who formerly worked in retail, has not decided where he will continue his education, but he is set on a career as a high school science teacher.


Vivian Clayton (center) receives a special
graduation gift from  Joan Meeh (left)
coordinator of the DARC program and Joann
Gonzalez-Generals, Executive Director of the
Center for Student Success at PCCC

“We’re very excited and proud of Vivian, Mario and Daniel,” said Joann Gonzalez-Generals, the executive director of the Center for Student Success at PCCC through which the DARC program is administered at the College. “PCCC is one of only four colleges in New Jersey that received the  DARC  grant, an initiative to encourage all New Jerseyans who did not complete their degrees to come back to college,” she added. 

The new grads had high praise for the program and for Joan Meeh, the DARC coordinator at PCCC. “Joan was wonderful,” said Vivian. “She literally took me by the hand and guided me.” Daniel said he thought the program was great and "really appreciated the book vouchers." Mario remarked, “Joan called me to tell me about the program and encouraged me to come back to college to finish.”  He added "It feels good to get my degree.”


Graduation Day: Daniel Dolcine in
cap and gown awaits the start
of the commencement ceremonies.